The Liberty of Southwark
The Liberty of Southwark development site reveals extraordinary Roman mausoleum

The Liberty of Southwark development site reveals extraordinary Roman mausoleum

15/06/2023 by Buildington

The first-of-its-kind Roman mausoleum has been unearthed at The Liberty of Southwark development site.

This remarkable find emerged during further excavation, a location just around the corner from Borough Market.

Led by the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) on behalf of Landsec and Transport for London (TfL), the archaeological investigations have unveiled the remains of a monumental tomb

that includes well-preserved walls, interior flooring, and even the lowest entrance steps of the structure. At the centre of it all lies a mosaic, surrounded by a raised platform that served as the final resting place for the deceased.

The level of preservation witnessed within this mausoleum makes it the most intact one ever discovered in Britain, an astonishing feat that has left researchers astounded.

Antonietta Lerz, Senior Archaeologist at MOLA, commented: “This relatively small site in Southwark is a microcosm for the changing fortunes of Roman London – from the early phase of the site where London expands and the area has lavishly decorated Roman buildings, all the way through to the later Roman period when the settlement shrinks and it becomes a more quiet space where people remember their dead. It provides a fascinating window into the living conditions and lifestyle in this part of the city in the Roman period.”

Marcus Geddes, Managing Director for Workplace at Landsec, said: “These extraordinary finds add great significance to the already culturally rich location of The Liberty of Southwark. We’re pleased to have worked together to ensure these finds were uncovered prior to our construction on site and we’re committed to celebrating Southwark’s heritage in the future of the development. We’ll continue to work with MOLA to preserve and protect the mausoleum and mosaics, and to display them for-the enjoyment of the public and our future office and retail customers at The Liberty of Southwark.”

Councillor Catherine Rose, Southwark Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Leisure and Parks, added: “The rediscovery of this Roman mausoleum and mosaics is a testament to the rich tapestry of our past. It is a moment of pride for Southwark, as we pay homage to the ingenuity and artistic brilliance that graced our borough in the Roman times.

We are extremely grateful to the archaeologists, historians, and all those involved in unearthing these extraordinary remnants. As a council we are committed to preserving and promoting these archaeological treasures, ensuring that they are accessible to the local community and beyond for generations to come. This includes the recent discovery of a stone sarcophagus built into a mausoleum near Harper Road and a 19th-century sculpture of King Alfred in Trinity Church”.

Victoria Shin, Senior Property Development Manager at TfL, commented: "This new discovery builds on the exciting findings already uncovered and develops our understanding of the changing use of the site throughout the Roman period. It is key that as we bring forward new developments across the whole of London that we work hard with others to preserve and reflect the heritage of London whilst delivering the homes and jobs that London needs to continue to thrive in the future.”

Photo: All roads lead to Rome, even in London. City A.M. 14.06.2023

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